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James Reimer: ‘The mental side is the biggest part of goaltending.’

James Reimer has turned into an extremely reliable goaltender for the Hurricanes. He spoke on confidence, preparing, hobbies and more.

NHL: JUL 18 Hurricanes Training Camp Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

James Reimer has more than exceeded expectations coming into this season, and now he has the opportunity to help the Hurricanes progress further into the playoffs.

After being acquired from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Scott Darling, Reimer posted a 14-6-2 record for the Canes with a 2.66 goals against average and a 0.914 save percentage. He spoke to the media over Zoom following Sunday’s practice.

On starter and having a short leash: It’s been an interesting year and it’s going to be an interesting playoffs. The whole thing is going to be odd, but a lot of fun. Starts are going to be huge. Both me and Mrazek had really good years, and we’re kind of a product of our team too. I thought we played good as a team throughout the whole year. If you get that shot and opportunity, you want to jump on it and do what you can to give the boys a chance.

On feeling prepared for the playoffs: I feel pretty good. We’re trying to introduce new drills and scenarios in practice to get ourselves fully up to speed, so I think I feel pretty good now and that we’re progressing every day here. Whether that’s getting better at one little thing or uncovering something that has a little rust on it, you’re just pushing right now. I feel like we have a good foundation right now and we’re ready to go. It’s just making sure all your T’s are crossed and your I’s are dotted.

On staying focused and not over-analyzing: It’s just breaking it down. As athletes and coaches, you get pretty good at compartmentalizing different things. Throughout camp so far, we’ve been focused on our game and what we need to do as a team. Simply breaking that down further for goalies and myself, it’s just making sure that our foundation is good and we’re set in how we want to play. Going forward into this next week, when we’re a couple of days before even into the exhibition, you start to sprinkle in some tendencies that they like to do and different things that they like to present on the offensive side. You can start to prepare for them, but up until now you haven’t been focused too much on them. It’s more so being ready as a team and that I’m ready as a goalie.

On the masked team picture: I think guys are just having fun with it. Obviously, you’re trying to do your part and what not, but you got the Canes logo on there and it is different. Everyone’s looking forward to a time when wearing masks and stuff won’t be necessary so you’re just grinding it out for now and trying to make the best of it.

On what he is bringing to Toronto: I got a few things. We’re preparing to be there for a couple of months. One of my side interests is flying, so I’m trying to get a little flight simulator set up on my computer so I can burn some hours in the room.

On if he has a pilot’s license: I don’t, but I hope to get it one day. Maybe when my career is done, I can really focus on it, but for now it’s just a hobby. I’m trying to learn what I can.

On if he had consulted with a sports psychologist before: Yeah. Over the years, different teams that I’ve played on have had sports psychologists, and apart from those teams, I’ve talked with a few people too. The mental side is the biggest part of goaltending. Obviously, the physical side and your natural abilities are big too, no doubt, but the way you can handle pressure, the way you can handle different scenarios and the lead ups to games and what not, is what makes you successful. Definitely have had some really good conversations and dialogues with sports psychs and kind of taken from them as much as possible what fit in with my personality and the way I like to play the game. There have been some guys that have really helped me along my career.

On playing with no fans: I think it will be a mental challenge for everybody the first game or the first few minutes of the game. Throughout my career, there have been times where, in juniors or minors or exhibition games, you don’t have a lot of fans. It sucks not having fans, period, but you really notice it for the first few minutes. Then, a play happens, a goal goes in, somebody gets hit, you make a big save and all of a sudden, everything just fades into the background and you’re just playing hockey. Fans are a huge part of the game and it makes the game so much more exciting and can cause momentum swings, but especially for a goalie, once you get focused, you’re just focused on the puck for the most part. It won’t be too tough once you get into it.

On goalies dealing with ebbs and flows in confidence throughout seasons: Confidence is a tough one. When you have it, the puck is massive and the plays slow down. What’s important though, is finding a way to be successful when you don’t have that feeling of confidence. So much goes on throughout your life and even during the day, from family stuff to sometimes just coming to the rink you’re just not feeling it and you still have a game, you still have to perform. Part of the sports psych is finding a way to get into that mindset even when your feelings are not there. Feelings are pretty fickle so you try to pull on facts and that’s what you rest on.